I’m still dipping--like a kid who has eaten one too many doughnuts and can’t stop—into the comments on the July 13 blog entry by David Kirby at the Huffington Post. He writes about mercury preservative in vaccines and its possible deleterious effect on children. I have written about vaccines causing autism, and that thimerosol, the mercury-based preservative, may add to the problem, but that the injury comes from the toxin inherent in the vaccine itself—the germ that is supposed to immunize us actually harms our nervous systems.
I am drawn to the comments because of my fascination with the vitriol that comes from both sides of the argument—vaccines are harmful vs. vaccines are good for us. I entered this fray myself and got blistered by some attacks which I consider to come from something beyond simple “interest in getting to the truth.” I prefer to bow to Jeff at today’s Rigorous Intuition blog for his depiction of this feeling:
Once you begin to smell something fishy, it's hard to smell anything else. And as soon as you start grasping the semiotics of conspiracy, you see tells, like inside jokes shared with the doomed, made on the dual assumptions that nobody is going to believe you and there's nothing you can do about it. Or at least I see them. (Hey, call me paranoid.)—Rigorous Intuition July 19, 2005
The odor this time comes from the vehemence with which the pro-vaccine writers push their agenda. I can understand why a parent of a vaccine-injured child has a fire lit under them from the passion of tragedy up close. But what’s the big deal for a blog commenter to spend lots of time and energy to knock down the position of a sincere skeptic? Unless they represent higher or deeper interests, which in this case would be the money-mongering pharmaceutical companies. Otherwise these writers’ zeal to make an impersonal point seems incredibly ambitious. Some samples:
…Please, David. Tell us what specifically is fallacious or incorrect about Autism Diva's or Kev's arguments. Try to tell us without resorting to the "big pharma shill" tactic or, even worse, the "autism holocaust denier" gambit. And, please, give us some actual data to back up your opinion, given that you seem to think that, in contrast to Kev and Autism Diva, you're so "well informed" about "vaccines and the mechanism of the immune system."
…Also, note that, in response to a request for some actual data to
back up his statements, David just links to an anti-vac website, as if that answers the request for more data. It doesn't.-- Posted by: Orac at July 15, 2005
…Autism Diva wants to ask Mr. Goldenberg (sp?) how does a "big pharma shill" sound?
Do they refer to themselves in the third person like Autism Diva? Do they have British accents like Kev?
Autism Diva likes another carnival reference better than "shill", she likes, "shell game". Watch the thimerosal science "pea".
It's here, it's there,
it's in 7 places at once, and can never be pinned down. It's as hard to constrain as mercury is to pick up with one's fingers. .. Posted by: Autism Diva at July 15, 2005
Vaccines cause autism because of a totally different immune-system-toxicity mechanism, on which ground breaking studies are now being conducted by dedicated pioneers in the field, including Dr. Andrew Wakefield among others-- Posted by: David Goldenberg
at July 15, 2005
…Ah yes, my dear fellow Brit Dr Wakefield. If I may quote myself?
"Andrew Wakefield was one of 13 authors of a paper published in The Lancet all edging a connection between MMR and autism. In fact, there were only 12 people studied, 9 of whom were autistic – it seemed Wakefield made the schoolboy error of deciding on his conclusions and working backwards to find his ‘culprit’… Posted by: Kev at July 17, 2005
And the most rational response of all, as usual, from the parent of a vaccine injured child:
…Dr. Wakefield's clinical findings have been replicated by more than one group of scientists. Although those clinical studies do not necessarily prove a causal link, they do suggest enough of a connection that further study is necessary. The science in the question of links between either live-virus vaccines or thimerosal is still emerging. Until further clinical and laboratory studies either definitively prove or disprove a causal link -- including the combined impact of thimerosal-containing vaccines and live-virus vaccines -- it is premature for any of us to state an opinion with certainty.
The only things I can state with certainty comprise anecdotal evidence: i.e., my observations of my son's regression after vaccinations, and my observations of dramatic improvement after biomedical treatments designed to counteract the damage. You may not consider those observations to be reliable in a scientific sense, but it has certainly opened the mind of this former skeptic.-- Posted by: Wade Rankin at July 18, 2005
I was thinking about conspiracies and hidden agendas and the parallel world of what’s really happening compared to what we the people think is really happening. And suddenly the news popped up that Bush would announce his Supreme Court nominee tonight. Huffington Post took the words right out of my keyboard:
I watched the puditry punditing on cable news, and a little voice told me to go check out Jesse Kornbluth’s latest entry on his Swami Uptown blog. Here’s what I wrote to him after reading it: “Beautiful post this week. I enjoyed every word!” Here’s partly why:
The good news is that it's summer. And hot pretty much everywhere. You wanna get hotter? Go ahead. But it might be smarter to grab a book. Soak in cool water. Brew a pitcher of tea.
"Only connect," said. E.M. Forster. Wrong. Only disconnect. The jokers in Washington will bring themselves down without you. There's nothing you can do for the kids in Iraq. If the Democrats in the Senate can't find their spines, we'll get some yutz of a Justice no matter how many emails you send.
So hug the one you're with. Read to a child. Rent an old movie. Read a real book. Have a pint of ice cream and call it dinner. Go to bed at nine. Life is hard and often mean, and it's up to you to keep your sanity and grab the beauty and make the peace.
Ignore politics and the idiots who make their living off lobbyists. Snap off all television news. Avoid pundits of every stripe, including fakirs/fakers like yours truly. Get outta here, already. And have a blast.—Swami Uptown July 18. 2005
If the last 4 paragraphs are all you read all day today, you’ve read enough. I have.